June 11, 2002
JERUSALEM – A majority of Palestinians believe the aim of their 20-month-old
uprising should be to eliminate Israel and not just end Israeli occupation in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, an opinion poll released Tuesday showed.
The survey also showed almost half of all respondents believed Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat would win elections he has proposed holding early next
year and that more than half wanted reforms of his Palestinian Authority.
The poll by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC)
highlighted a radicalization of views as 20 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence
The JMCC interviewed 1,179 people in the West Bank and Gaza in late May
and early June. The poll had a three percent margin of error.
Fifty-one percent of people surveyed said the end result of the uprising should
be “liberating all of historic Palestine,” referring to British-mandate Palestine,
part of which was recognized as Israel in 1948.
Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and
these territories have since been the focus of internationally sponsored peace
negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Forty-three percent of respondents said the aim of the uprising was to end
Israeli occupation and establish a state only in the West Bank and Gaza. This
compared with a poll taken in December in which 48 percent said the uprising’s
goal was to end the occupation compared with 44 percent who said the aim
should be to eliminate Israel, the JMCC said.
BROAD SUPPORT FOR UPRISING
The uprising continued to have broad support. Seventy-nine percent of people
surveyed said they back the revolt in some way and 68 percent said they
approved of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, down slightly from 74
percent in December.
Fewer than half the respondents supported Arafat, despite Israeli attempts to
isolate him by besieging his headquarters and restricting his movement.
Some 41 percent of people surveyed gave Arafat favorable marks, compared
with 29 percent who said he was a bad leader.
Most of the people polled said Israeli raids had reduced their support for the
Palestinian Authority and its security forces, and also dented their support for
holding peace talks with Israel.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said the Israeli raids had boosted their
approval of the militant Islamic group Hamas, which opposes Israel’s existence,
and 66 percent said the army operations increased their backing for suicide
A large majority – 58 percent – said they supported domestic reform within the
Palestinian Authority, and 42 percent said the best way to accomplish reform
was through free democratic elections.
Arafat was expected to win elections by 48 percent of those surveyed. Overall,
25 percent of Palestinians said they trusted Arafat more than any other
politician, followed by 24 percent who said they trust no one and nine percent
who put their faith in Hamas’ spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.